Starting Over

Many people who support liberty and individual rights are reacting to current events with depression and even despair. I find this reaction puzzling.

Of course I understand that the present course of our government, from both a moral and practical perspective, is disastrous. But how is this new? Our government has been on a wrong course for many, many decades. Except for some occasional and brief reversals here and there, by and large the American government has become increasingly socialist and statist for a long, long time. Sometimes the speed of statism has been high, and sometimes more moderate or slow — but the direction has almost always been wrong. Occasionally taxes were lowered or regulations lifted, or subsidies reduced, but they were always restored before long. Many lovers of liberty seem to react right now as if they assume, “The government was on the right track, and now it’s heading in exactly the wrong direction.” That’s not the case, and advocates of liberty and individual rights — the very ones who are so depressed — know it. At present, we are continuing to head in the wrong direction at a faster speed than ever. But this cannot continue indefinitely, because a self-defeating course cannot sustain itself indefinitely. Just as a drug addict or alcoholic must sooner or later hit bottom, so too will a society on a self-destructive path.

Yes, it’s hugely regrettable that all this is happening. But it’s the same thing that was happening before. The only real difference is that under our present officials, the errors of socialism will become dramatically more evident. I don’t know how long it will take Americans to get this — months, years, even decades? It will take as long as it takes, but it will happen. Those who feel depressed about this assume that disaster and destruction are inevitable. Total disaster is, in fact, possible, but not in any way inevitable. It’s just as likely that course reversals never before feasible will become feasible because of the very economic decline we dread. No, I don’t welcome disaster. I’d like to avoid disaster if at all possible. But if disaster comes — or even gets closer so that more people will see it — then it’s an opportunity for those who want course reversal to persuade enough people to insist on it, while we’re still a democracy. This happened in the late 1970s, in both Great Britain and America. Things got so bad that course reversals became possible. Regrettably, these course reversals were neither widespread nor far-reaching enough; if they had been, we would not be in the mess we’re presently in. At the same time, there was a level of prosperity and peace (through military strength) during the last 25 years that would not have occurred had it not been for the tinkering around the edges that took place during the 1980s. If tinkering around the edges bought us a decade or two of more freedom and economic growth — imagine what real change could do.

Not all is lost. We may be near the end, as many fear. But the end of a private economy hampered by growing levels of socialism implies the end of socialism itself. It means the exposure of the economic bankruptcy of socialism. It will be up to the advocates of freedom to use this crisis as an opportunity to expose the moral bankruptcy of socialism as well. For example, socialism doesn’t mean “universal health care” or “universal brotherhood.” It means enslaving those who produce to force them to provide for those who cannot or will not produce (most often the latter).  In this sense, we may be approaching a new beginning. In a way, that’s largely up to those of us who still value liberty, freedom and capitalism (in the true sense of the term). Nothing is inevitable. Just as success is never guaranteed, it’s likewise true that disaster is not inevitable. Nor is it permanent. In great societies, great people rebuild after earthquakes and hurricanes. They don’t expect anyone else to do it, they just take care of it. The same applies to man-made disasters, such as socialism. If the worst happens in America, as present insane and irrational policies escalate, America has an opportunity to start anew. If America deserves to survive — it will. You’ll know this by whether the revolutionary and individualistic spirit that gave rise to America — and roared its way to excellence — comes back as desperate office holders seek more and more power over the people. Those of us who understand what’s right, what’s wrong, and how we got into this mess will be the ones to lead the way out. We live in interesting times. They’re only going to get more interesting. We should not despair, but be ready to champion the freedom and rights that we own.